AskDefine | Define decimation

Dictionary Definition

decimation n : destroying or killing a large part of the population (literally every tenth person as chosen by lot)

User Contributed Dictionary



From lang=la, a punishment where every 10th man in a unit would be stoned to death by the men who were spared. Used by the Romans to keep order in their military.



  1. The killing or destruction of a large portion of a population.
    • 1702: Cotton Mather, Magnalia Christi Americana - And the whole army had cause to enquire into their own rebellions, when they saw the Lord of Hosts, with a dreadful decimation, taking off so many of our brethren by the worst of executioners.
  2. A tithing.
  3. A selection of every tenth person by lot, as for punishment.
    • , V-v - By decimation and a tithed death, / ... take thou the destin'd tenth.
  4. The creation of a new sequence comprising only every nth element of the original sequence.
  5. A digital signal processing technique for reducing the number of samples in a discrete-time signal.


  • Century 1914}}

Extensive Definition

Decimation may refer to:
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